Java Reclaims #1 Programming Language Spot

Every month, TIOBE releases its programming community index, ranking the popularity of programming languages. For August, the big news is that Java is once again claiming the top spot.

Photo from tiobe.com

Image from tiobe.com

According to the TIOBE index, Java has de-throned C as the top programming language. The fight between Java and C is ongoing, and has been since before TIOBE started calculating its rankings, but it’s been four months since Java had the upper hand. The re-emergence of Java as number one has many asking questions, though. Java is one of the most-hated programming languages out there. Why is it so popular?

How TIOBE Assembles Its Index

The main source of data for TIOBE is search engine results. It’s all about how many searches are performed for each of the programming languages in the index. Not only are the big guys — Google, Yahoo!, Bing — used to help measure results, but smaller search engines are used as well. In fact, TIOBE just added 16 more search sources from countries like Brazil, Japan, and China.

Traditional search engines aren’t the only sources, either. Sites that many don’t associate with traditional search, like YouTube and Reddit, are also included in the TIOBE results. The fact that TIOBE relies so heavily on the number of search results is one of the reasons that some in the programming world are quick to criticize the index, and accuse the index of being too easy to game.

Java has moved to the top spot again, its 15.978 percent of the searches measured by TIOBE edging out C’s 15.974 percent of searches. So, even though Java is in the top spot, it’s not by much, and C could easily regain the title next month. The third-most-popular programming language, C++ only managed to garner 9.371 percent of the searches, meaning that no one is likely to come in as a dark horse in the Java vs. C programming language fight.

WHY is Java So Popular?

One of the reasons that some speculate Java is so popular in the TIOBE report is due to the fact that it requires more searches. “Some might say that Java could be top of the pile because its shortcomings and learning difficulty indicate that developers are often searching for answers,” writes Chris Mayer at JAXenter.

Another reason that Java might still be so popular? It’s still a cornerstone of programming. Even though it can be unwieldy and frustrating, it’s so embedded in programming culture that Java isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Despite the continued declarations of Java’s death, the programming language still seems to soldier on.

About Miranda Marquit

Miranda is a freelance journalist. She has written for Discover magazine and for the science news site Phys.org. Miranda's work has appeared in Lifehacker, U.S. News & World Report, and USA Today. She also writes the tech column for her local newspaper.